Maputo — THE passing of a new bill banning child marriage in Mozambique has been hailed as a historic commitment by the government to uphold the rights of girls.
After a two-and-a half-year campaign by gender equality organisations, government has passed the bill that sets the minimum age for marriage at 18.
This eliminates a loophole in Mozambican family law which made it possible for children to marry at 16, with the consent of their parents.
The bill unanimously passed its second and final reading in the Mozambican parliament and will become law as soon as it has been signed off by President Filipe Nyusi.
Anne Hoff, Country Director of Plan International Mozambique, said the new law paved the way for millions of girls who would have been robbed of their childhoods, to continue their education and reach their potential.
"This could lift a generation of young women out of poverty," she said.
"Girls have waited long enough for this grave violation of their human rights to end. The new law must come into force as soon as possible," Hoff said.
Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.
Almost half of girls marry before 18.
More than one in ten females in the Southern African country are married before their 15th birthday.